DRC: Goma on alert after Nyamulagira volcano becomes active

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DRC: Goma on high alert after Nyamulagira volcano erupts© Denys.Kutsevalov/Shutterstock

The populations of Goma are called to calm as the Nyamulagira volcano has again become active. Although lava flow is not yet observed at the summit and on the flanks of the volcano, the Goma Volcano Observatory (OVG) confirms the movement of magma at shallow depths towards the central crater of Nyamulagira.

Goma is once again in the news in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This city of over 2 million people is threatened by the likely imminent eruption of the Nyamulagira volcano. Since “current seismic data indicate a movement of magma at shallow depths towards the central crater of Nyamulagira,” says the Goma Volcanological Observatory (OVG).

And “if the current activity (…) leads to an eruption on the flank, the lava would flow into the Virunga National Park,” says the OVG, which calls on the people of Goma to “remain calm and go about their business freely. At the same time, the observatory is inviting airplane pilots to exercise caution when in the area, especially by taking into account the direction of the wind when flying over the Virunga region, because of the presence of volcanic gases.

One more threat in Goma

Nyamulagira is one of the most active volcanoes on the African continent. This rift volcano rises to 3,058 m above sea level to a caldera (a large depression) 2 km wide and 2.3 km long, surrounded by cliffs about 100 m high. Located in the Virunga mountain range in the east of the DRC, this volcano is capable of producing lava flows of about thirty km which thus reach Lake Kivu. Its last eruption was in 2018, without any consequences for the population.

Read also- DRC: Action to dislodge M23 rebels from Virunga National Park

This level of alert is again reached while the memories of another volcanic eruption are still fresh in Goma. On May 22, 2021, the Nyiragongo volcano entered a new eruptive phase. In the days that followed, two lava flows poured down the sides of the volcano, one of which was directed towards Goma and stopped at the city limits. Several villages were affected, however, with 13 indirect victims.

This situation puts even more pressure on the population of Goma, which is threatened by the rebels of the March 23 Movement (M23). The offensive of this armed group, created in the wake of the war in Kivu, has prompted some East African countries, notably Kenya, to deploy a contingent of its army to the east of the DRC. Angola is also planning to deploy its troops there after the failure of a truce it negotiated between the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) and the M23, which the DRC authorities and some diplomatic circles accuse of being supported by Rwanda.

Jean Marie Takouleu

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